Catering for Your Child's Individuality

When it comes to parenting, it is important to remember that every child is an individual.  Likewise, when it comes to early childhood development, it is important to remember that each child is different.  What works for one child doesn’t necessarily work for another.

Gavin was always very good with books.  He could turn the pages gently and he almost never tore the pages, except for a few incidents.  As much as I would like to pat myself on the back for a job well-done in educating him how to treat books with respect, I am beginning to think that there is a certain element of nature involved – especially after observing Gareth in action.

There is often so much reference to the importance of nurture and how it influences the growth and development of a child that it is easy to overlook the parts affected by nature.  For as much as nurture can affect a child, there are still certain inherent characteristics influenced by nature that cannot be changed.

Here’s an example:

Gavin spends most of his time with me and a very limited amount of time with Daddy because Daddy is often busy with work.  Yet, all his mannerisms and even the gait of his run is exactly like his father’s.  If nurture was the only thing in effect, he should be moving and walking exactly like me.

How have my children’s individuality affected my approach with their education and development?

When Gavin was younger, it had always been my intention to home school him until he was old enough to attend Primary School.  The plan changed after I become pregnant with Gareth and I reluctantly agreed to send him to pre-school.  Although he was initially unhappy about having to go to school, I soon came to realise that he was a lot more open to taking instruction from his teachers compared to me.  He was more enabled at school, whereas at home, he would often insist he could not do it.

Another thing I have discovered is that while my Montessori cupboards and posters worked well for Gavin, they are not working out at all with Gareth.  To date, he has torn three posters and pulled two posters off the walls.  I have had to shift the books to a higher shelf because he keeps pulling them off the shelves and crushing the pages.  Admittedly, Gareth is still quite young so there is still hope.

I spoke to a friend about the contrasting personalities between siblings – how can two children be so different in personality despite having the same upbringing?  My theory is that children need to be noticed by their parents.  If they are too similar to their siblings, they are easily overlooked.  This may not be intentional on the parents’ part, but unlike an only child who has his parents full attention, a second or third child must compete with other siblings for attention, therefore subsequent siblings need to be different in order to command their parents’ notice.  I think this is especially evident with identical twins who are identical in all outward appearances.  Sharing identical genetic make-up, you would think that they should be similar in character and yet they rarely are.

Do you have more than one child?  How similar or dissimilar are their personalities?

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

3 thoughts on “Catering for Your Child's Individuality

  1. My parents have 3 daughters who have vastly different interests, flair and personality. We are so different it is hard to even go into specifics. Nature certainly plays a big part by giving us different combinations of genes from the same set of parents.

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  2. I don’t think a child would consciously or subconsciously do it differently just to be noticed, rather I think it is quite common for siblings to have varied personalities just like how every individual is different.

    My 2 daughters are chalk and cheese. T1 is sensitive, chatty, action-packed and very advanced. T2 is quiet but gets very fierce and loud only when the need arises, very feminine and slower in development than T1 was. And I love them both to bits!

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  3. MieVee – yes, my brother and I are also very different. Gavin seems more like my brother, while Gareth appears to take after me.

    Mamapumpkin – I think it is not so much that the child consciously or subconsciously tries to be different rather that nature makes it so that we parents notice all of our children. I don’t mean to say that parents favour one child over the other, but that when there is more than one child, attention is divided and it can be difficult to focus on each child in the way that we did when there was only one child.

    I value the differences between Gavin and Gareth – they are unique in their own ways which makes them special. I love that Gavin shares my interest in books, and I love that Gareth shares my love for adventure and exploration. And yes, I love them both to bits, too!

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